Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for Excellence in Research

UCI (Big 7 Pre-Application) Mandatory Advising Deadline:

October 29, 2019 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time for Fall 2020 funding

Access Step 1, the Goldwater Student Profile and Pre-Application, between September and October annually to begin the mandatory advising process.

After submitting your Pre-Application, please complete Step 2, our Goldwater Advising Questionnaire.


The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship provides 1 to 2 years of undergraduate funding to advance excellence in mathematics, natural sciences, and computer sciences or engineering, and to protect U.S. leadership in science and technology by educating and training new generations equipped to meet ever-increasing challenges.

Funding begins in Fall Quarter of the junior or senior year, for outstanding students of promise who demonstrate strong commitment to a research career in eligible Fields of Study and display intellectual intensity in natural sciences, mathematics or engineering, including the evidence of potential for a significant future contribution to research in their chosen field. The scholarship is administered by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Fund, established by Congress to help alleviate a critical shortage of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

Who is Eligible

Candidates must:

  • Be sophomores (two years of full-time undergraduate study remaining) or juniors (one year of study remaining);
  • Be U.S. citizens, U.S. Nationals, or Permanent Residents who intend to obtain U.S. citizenship;
  • Have a minimum 3.0+ GPA (3.7+ recommended);
  • Have selected a major and demonstrate outstanding potential for a career in mathematics, the natural sciences, psychological research, computer science, or those engineering disciplines which contribute significantly to the technological advances of the U.S.

A detailed list of eligible Fields of Study is available on the Goldwater website, under EligibilityPlease also note: Students who plan to study medicine are eligible if they plan a career in research, rather than a career as practicing physician with emphasis on the clinical practice of medicine and patient care. Psychology applicants must be pursuing research inquiry that would be considered to be in the natural sciences.

Goldwater Scholars typically intend to pursue doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in the disciplines the Foundation supports. Students who aspire to a Master’s degree or teaching credential are generally not competitive.

To be competitive for campus endorsement (nomination), SOP advisors recommend that applicants achieve at least a 3.7 GPA and demonstrate a strong record of noteworthy accomplishment, professional competence, and dedication to ambitious career goals in academia, government or nonprofit research institutes, or private-sector research & development.

Relevant qualifications may include completion of a significant amount of coursework relating to the proposed Field of Study; 1 or more years of research experience; evidence of significant research achievements, such as publications, presentations, patents, or software applications; and/or significant work experience/internships relevant to the selected research area. Abilities and potential may also be demonstrated by independent investigation of theory or issues related to the Field of Study, involvement in science-related student organizations, early participation in graduate courses, and other accomplishments outside the classroom.

Please note that external scholarship agencies will consider all of your credit-bearing coursework from any college or institution as part of the review process (including CSU, community colleges, private colleges or other UC campuses/Extension programs, and including units earned while in high school). Grades from other colleges will be included in calculation of your overall GPA for eligibility purposes.

SOP Required Advising Process

Campus endorsement (nomination) is a required component of the Goldwater Scholarship application. You may NOT apply directly to the Goldwater Foundation. Working with SOP staff advisors during Fall quarter to produce a competitive fellowship application is mandatory.

To begin the SOP advising process, in late October, sophomores and juniors complete a two-step Pre-Application process, including submission of the Goldwater Student Profile and Pre-Application and the Goldwater Advising Questionnaire.

In early November, SOP staff review Pre-Applications, determine whether you are eligible for the scholarship and the Field of Study you have chosen, and meet with potential applicants to discuss their candidacy and subsequent steps. Eligible candidates will receive an invitation to join our Big 7 Canvas Course, where you will find prompts, deadlines, and detailed instructions for how to prepare the following application first-draft materials, which will be used in the nomination review committee meeting.

All candidates submit:

  • Goldwater Student Profile and Pre-Application
  • Application forms, including detailed short answers about research experiences, graduate program interests, and career goals
  • 1 3-page Research Essay, typically based on a past or current research experience (for prompt, see Goldwater: Steps in Application Process)
  • Transcripts of all college coursework
  • Copy of the nominee’s Permanent Resident card and letter of intent to become U.S. citizen, if nominee’s citizenship status is permanent resident.
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation, typically including one from the Principal Investigator or other supervisor of a research experience; and two from science faculty and instructors who can discuss your past research experiences; potential for a research career in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering; and academic performance in coursework in your major or a related field.

Recommenders should provide signed letters on letterhead directly to SOP by email at, campus mail (zot code 5695), or dropped off in person at our office (193 Science Library, in the Writing Center). Letters will be due on November 26, 2019 for consideration in the campus endorsement (nomination) process. Graduate students or other research mentors not holding doctoral degrees who are writing letters for Goldwater candidates should approach Principal Investigators for co-signature.

In December, SOP convenes a screening panel composed of deans and faculty in Goldwater’s eligible Fields of Study. The faculty panel may nominate up to four candidates admitted to UCI as freshmen and one additional transfer student. UCI nomination is extremely competitive.

Up to 4 nominees admitted to UCI as freshmen, and 1 nominated transfer student, will receive detailed feedback for revision of their materials in mid-December, and work closely with staff advisors in December and January to prepare a final revision for submission to Goldwater.

In January, SOP formally submits nominated, complete application materials, including all references and supporting documents.

Selection Procedures

The Foundation writes, “The mission of the Goldwater program is straightforward – we seek to identify and support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming this Nation’s next generation of natural sciences, mathematics and engineering research leaders. When reviewing nomination packets, Goldwater reviewers are attempting to determine who these individuals are among the nominees. Goldwater reviewers seek to identify undergraduates who demonstrate a passion for doing research and who exhibit the creative spark that will make them leaders in their fields.”

Through a partnership with the Department of Defense, the Goldwater Foundation has recently been able to increase the number of scholarships awarded from approximately 260 to 450 scholarships per year. In addition, as of 2019, the Foundation announced that applications will now be reviewed by academic discipline, rather than conducting initial screening by U.S. state of residence.

In addition to displaying excellent academic backgrounds (in practice, a minimum 3.7 GPA) and evidence of other talents or interesting experiences, winners have well-written, carefully developed research essays and very strong letters composed by faculty. At UCI, between 2014-2019, all competitive applicants expressed ambition to earn a doctoral degree (including Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.), and had a mean of 1.875 years of research experience, as well as a mean of 1.33 poster presentations and 1.5 oral presentations completed, at the time of application. Most honorees participated in both the Campuswide Honors Program (now, the Campuswide Honors Collegium) and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. While applicants were competitive for invitation to School-based Honors Programs or Excellence in Research in Biological Sciences, invitation to these senior-year programs typically occurs after Goldwater nominations are submitted (and thus cannot be factored into selection).

Recent Recipients & Honorable Mentions

  • In 2021, two UCI students received Goldwater Scholarships: Pratyush Muthukumar (Computer Science) and Lucy Yang (Chemistry and Biological Sciences).
  • In 2018, Aaron Chau (Public Health Sciences) and Christian Totoiu (Chemical Engineering) received Honorable Mentions.
  • In 2017, Leandra Jackson (Public Health Sciences) won a Goldwater scholarship and Jordan Edmunds (Electrical Engineering; Biological Sciences) received an honorable mention.
  • In 2016, Joshua Cook (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Chemistry) won a Goldwater scholarship and Jordan Edmunds (Electrical Engineering) received an honorable mention.
  • In 2009-2010, two UCI students won Goldwater Scholarships: Yas Sanaiha (Biology) and Kevin Slagle (Physics).


Each scholarship covers eligible expenses for tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 annually. Scholarship monies not used during one academic year are not transferable to the succeeding academic year. Sophomore scholarship winners are eligible for a maximum of two years of scholarship support, and junior scholarship recipients are eligible for a maximum of one year of scholarship support.


Goldwater is an outstanding scholarship for students who intend research careers in engineering, computer science, mathematics or the natural sciences. Learning effective grant-writing skills to apply for this highly competitive, merit-based award often serves as an important catalyst for future academic achievements and honors, including prestigious graduate scholarships such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship or the Churchill Scholarship; here, we should extol the subseqent successes of Ms. Jackson, who went on to receive the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and Mr. Edmunds, who received the Hertz Fellowship.

For More Information

Further information and Pre-Applications are available at the Goldwater website.

Questions about the campus advising and endorsement (nomination) process may be directed to the Scholarship Opportunities Program at 949-824-0189 or

SOP is able to advise competitive undergraduate candidates at UC Irvine only.

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